(CBS) John Fox has made his first big hire as the Bears’ new coach.
Chicago has hired the well-respected Vic Fangio as its new defensive coordinator, the team confirmed Tuesday afternoon. Fangio has spent the last four seasons directing the 49ers defense under Jim Harbaugh. During that span, San Francisco ranked in the top five in total defense every season. In 2011 and 2012, the 49ers were second in scoring defense in the NFL, and they ranked third in 2013.
Fangio, 56, will inherit a bigger project in Chicago, as the Bears ranked second-to-last in scoring defense in 2014 and third-to-last in scoring defense in 2013.
Fangio also interviewed to be the defensive coordinator for Washington before choosing Chicago.
Fangio has 36 years of coaching experience, including 28 at the NFL level, 15 of which have come as a defensive coordinator. He started coaching in the NFL in 1986 and has worked for the Saints, Panthers, Colts, Texans and Ravens as well.
Fangio has typically utilized a 3-4 defense in the past. At his introductory press conference Monday, Fox said he’s open to using a 4-3 or a 3-4 base defense, and personnel will surely factor into the decision as well.
“Spending 25 years in this league as a head coach or a defensive coach,” Fox said, “I think sometimes maybe on the outside more is made of that than reality. We’re going to our players in the best position for them to have success, and that’s how we’re going to earn their respect moving forward because they know we can help that. Whether that’s a 3-4 or 4-3 has not been determined yet.”
It’s expected that former 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell will join Fangio in coming to Chicago, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Prior to his time in San Francisco, Fangio worked as the defensive coordinator at Stanford in 2010. Fangio is credited in part with helping Richard Sherman transform into a premier cornerback at Stanford after he came to campus as a receiver. Sherman now plays for the Seahawks and is regarded by many as the top cornerback in the league.
Fangio is a Pennsylvania native who attended East Stroudsburg University in eastern Pennsylvania.
Mel Tucker is still under contract after working as the Bears defensive coordinator for the past two seasons, but he’s already been searching for new jobs. It’s expected he’ll be let go soon.